SAPCA comment

Which surface?

For anyone building or upgrading outdoor sports courts, the choice of surfaces may seem complicated. SAPCA CEO Chris Trickey offers his tips on selecting the right surface.

AS well as the wide range of surface types to choose from, there is a large selection of different products and brands to pick from. A number of factors should affect the final decision, such as the preferred playing characteristics, the level of maintenance required and the surface’s longevity. When deciding which surface or

combination of surfaces to install, a key consideration will be the financial viability of the facility. It’s therefore important to choose surfaces that will attract and retain players (or members) and which are affordable, in terms of both their initial and ongoing costs, as well as the size of the sinking fund needed to save for eventual replacement. Ideally, a sports facility should aim to satisfy

its own individual needs and aspirations, catering for the required sports and the balance of social and competitive play that it is likely to face.

quality advice In recent years there has been an increase of the use of performance standards and scientific testing to quantify the playing characteristics of sports surfaces. While these are useful in providing an objective comparison of different surfaces and products, it’s essential for clubs and other buyers to rely on their own

experience and the more subjective views and preferences of players. Advice is available from a variety of different

sources, including specialist contractors and manufacturers, independent sports facility consultants, other sports facilities and their users, as well as national governing bodies. Depending on the scale of the proposed

project, there might be a large number of specialist advisers involved. When selecting professional consultants it’s essential to check that they have relevant experience. SAPCA’s Professional Services Group includes a variety of independent specialists involved in facility projects.

past performance It’s important to inspect other similar projects that contractors have completed, and to speak to their previous clients about their experiences. Contractors should be interviewed and questioned to ensure that the people involved in the project will work well together as a team. Competitive quotations should always be

compared not only in terms of costs, but also by examining the terms of payment and other contract conditions, such as guarantees and the quality of the specification. Unless a full specification has been provided against which

SAPCA is the recognised trade association for the sports and play construction industry in the UK. Its role is to foster excellence, professionalism and continuous improvement throughout the industry, in order to provide the high quality facilities needed at all levels of sport, physical activity, recreation and play. For details on the above stories and more visit


contractors have been invited to tender, it will be necessary to compare the different contractors’ specifications, in order to assess their suitability and best value for money. There is a great deal of valuable

information and guidance in the SAPCA Codes of Practices, which are accessible free of charge from the SAPCA website. These have been written to help clients better understand the technical considerations of sports surface projects, and therefore to make better choices in how they invest their hard-earned funds wisely for the future.

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